Raja Ampat Islands lie on the Northwest of Papua. “Raja Ampat” translates to “Four Kings”. The reason behind such a name is due to having four main islands which are Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool. There are a total of 1500 smaller islands along with the four main islands. There is a local legend of a woman who found seven eggs among which four hatched in four of the main islands, this is exactly how the naming occurred & at present, the four main islands are called “The Four Kings”.
The legend of the four kings is actually what gives these islands the unique name of “The Islands Of The Four Kings”. The beautiful blue sea, clear water, sandy beaches & beautiful green islands make Raja Ampat a unique destination for vacations. But, before you head out to Raja Ampat Islands, here are 10 things to know as a tourist:
Raja Ampat Islands
1. Language Issue
The first thing one our list of things to know as a tourist is the language issue. Since the islands fall under the Papua region, the people there mostly speak in Papuan language which is very different from the Bahasa Indonesia, so, once you reach the islands, you might find yourself in a situation where the language might sound unfamiliar to you. Most of the locals do not know English but, some of them at present do speak in Bahasa Indonesia as well.
So, in the case you’re facing difficulty, try to take a guide along with you or take help from the local hotels you might be staying with for communication. This language issue is important to focus on. While over there try to learn the interesting Papuan language which is quite an easy language to learn. Nas Daily described the Papuan language as one of the most simple languages in the world.
2. Try Wearing Modest Clothes
In case you are visiting islands, do remember that the Papua region remains very rural as mostly tribes live there. Even though the tribal people might not react to you directly, but they often get offended when they see women wearing too short, nude or revealing clothes. So, even when going swimming, try to wear a swimsuit which does not reveal too much. Also, males are suggested to wear shorts that cover the knees & also T-shirts are okay but wearing vests which reveal shoulders are not alright.
In case you’re entering churches or mosques, do not wear shorts and females should cover their heads with scarves while entering mosques specifically. Mainly, the locals there are very religious and so, wearing any sort of clothes which may offend a religious person or institution is not a good idea. The tribal people there mainly still wear their traditional tribal clothes very often and during festivals mostly.
3. Sundays are Holidays
In case, you might think of touring the city on Sundays, be aware that the shops will remain closed & also local restaurants. Try to inform the hotel staff to keep your meals prepared for you for lunch. Otherwise, there will be no chances of finding foods outside. Since the majority of Papuans are Christian, the Sundays are holidays & time for family & rest.
4. Places of Worship
The places of worship are mainly mosques & churches. The churches are the main religious sites as the majority are Christians there. However, be careful about taking your shoes off while entering mosques or churches. There are no temples or pagodas in this region, however. Also, there are a few folk religions present in this region as much of the locals living there belong to Papuan tribes.
Though many of the violent practices like cannibalism or black magic are no longer practice by the local Papuan tribesmen, there are still many superstitious beliefs and rituals which the locals still perform. Presently, much of the locals accepted Christianity & became devout Christians but have not completely abandoned their tribal lifestyle or the ancient superstitions.
5. Unique Delicacies
Next in our list of things to know as a tourist is the unique delicacies you can find here. The food here is a unique Papuan & Indonesian cuisine. If you are willing to try out new foods & desserts, this will be perfect. But, in case, you are not into that, you may as well ask the hotels or restaurants to serve you fusion cuisine. And the fusion cuisine often has European twists & is great indeed for trying out.
6. Lack of World Class facilities
There’s a lot of facilities available but no world-class facilities. The hotels are mostly 3-star. None of the hotels are 5-star, so, expecting such great facilities is pretty much useless. Also, the tour guides do exist but the packages do not provide too many facilities. Mainly, the main objective while visiting the islands should be to explore nature & relax at the beach.
Do not expect amazing nightlife or poolside parties or other big facilities. And also, there are no Michelin Star restaurants in Raja Ampat islands and so, fancy Western-style food is very rare over there. But there are great cottages built like the traditional huts of the tribal people where you may live along with the tribal people & get a taste of the tribal lifestyle of the Papuans though it is not as comfortable or luxurious as a 5-star hotel it is a very unique experience.
Health and Medicine Facilities:
There is also a problem regarding health and medicine facilities in the islands. Moreover, ther are no world-class hospitals with proper facilities available but clinics are available. There is a widespread Malaria problem in the islands. Though there are medications available against malaria and some diseases, it is still a very risky place where if you do get infected by diseases, you may just have to face a really tough problematic situation.
7. Enjoy Local Hospitality
In the islands, the Papuan locals are known for their hospitality. They serve various sweets & foods to the people who visit the islands. Also, they will try to entertain you with local folk songs & dances. Also, the overall folk festivals organized by the locals will surely cheer you up! Definitely, try out the local cuisine though it is a bit spicy and sweet often & might not fit the western taste buds often. The best way to get in touch with the locals would be at Arborek Tourism Village.
The fare to stay there is not much but, it gives you an idea about the locals & is quite enjoyable. Also, the locals may offer you to paint your face just like theirs. It is quite a unique experience. So, do try it out! Painting faces is a unique feature of the local Papuan tribes. During festivals, they often wear traditional jewelry along with face paintings and dance out to entertain the tourists. They may offer you to dress up like them to attend the festival & you may do so just to get a better experience with the local culture.
8. Do Not Get Into Disputes With the Locals
The locals in the islands are friendly but, do not get into disputes with them as the situation may end up ugly. And no brawling, shouting or berating should commit as it may result in a problematic situation for you. So, staying calm & maintaining peace will be our advice for you. Also, the locals there are very simple-minded but they do come from a very backward society as the local Papuans there are not highly educated and believe in various weird superstitions and some follow their ancient rituals and some also worship ancestors and perform weird rituals.
Do not offend any of them regarding their religious beliefs or superstitions as they may easily get offended and the situation may turn out very bad for you. So, it is advised to respect the local cultures, traditions and superstitious rituals or beliefs as well. In a few cases previously, some tourists got into fights with locals due to disrespecting the local culture & that turned out to be a problem, so, the authority suggests to keep calm and interact peacefully with every local. Generally, the locals are very friendly. So, there will not be too many problems and there is not much to worry about usually.
9. Discover Wildlife & Endangered Plant Species
Waigeou spotted cuscus (Spilocuscus papuensis), an endangered species of Cuscus can be found here along with the amazing Cendrawasih, an amazing bird that is only found there. Also, there are over 1300 coral reef fish species available in these islands. You can find Hawksbill Sea turtle there. As well as Mammal species like Dugong which live underwater. Seven giant types of clams along with seven hundred species of various mollusks are also seen there. Fifty-seven species of Shrimps are found in the waters of islands.The White Sharks, goatfishes, batfishes, pygmy seahorses, huge six-banded angelfishes, barracudas, fusiliers, surgeon-fishes, schooling jacks, etc.
Various kinds of marine animals are a common sight in the coasts of the Islands. Raja Ampat Islands have a total of 171 species of various different kinds of birds. Also, there are 27 types of mammal species that survive on this island among which some are extinct in other parts of the world. But, yes, be aware of the sea snakes, the sharks and saltwater crocodiles in the islands which remain a very big threat just in case you plan to go out exploring the wild without proper protective gear. Always keep an experienced guide and a first aid box with you before going out exploring into the wilderness.
10. The Best Time to Visit
Before deciding to head to the Raja Ampat islands, please make sure that you plan the trip for October-April which remains better for a visit there. The best conditions to visit there remain during the last months of the year. Also, the region lies near the equatorial region, so the summers here are way too hot. The record temperatures go up to 31-degree Celsius & go as below as 25-degree Celsius. June & July are the months when most storms occur & heavy rain happens as well which is why it is suggested to not go there during those conditions. But we will suggest you to not worry about the storm clouds as it is quite common in the tropical regions.
The best view in the islands is from the balconies from where you can check out the wonderful sunsets. The beautiful sea, sunset and the greenery around you along with maybe a romantic song playing on the background is exactly why often Raja Ampat Islands is called an ideal romantic honeymoon spot. In fact, if you are just newly married and still looking for an uncommon unique honeymoon experience then definitely go ahead and book yourself a trip to Raja Ampat Islands. Take your plane ride to Jakarta and then set sail for the Raja Ampat Islands. It will definitely be a unique experience indeed.
The Raja Ampat Islands remain a spectacular place to visit for a vacation. It is the Secret Islands of Indonesia which even beat Bali in terms of beauty. It is a unique experience, so, do give it a visit for sure! If you are looking for an appropriate unique adventure, this is the perfect destination for a visit!
So, book the trip and check it out and explore nature, new cultures, tastes and meet new people along with other adventurers just like you. And hopefully, you will not regret it. The following 10 things mentioned here will truly help you to understand the environment there. So, remember the following 10 things mentioned in this article just before boarding that plane and flying off to Indonesia.
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